Thursday, December 31, 2020

Wall Street Traders Lose $38 Billion Betting Against Tesla

Short sellers lost $38bn (£28bn) betting against Tesla in 2020, higher losses than those triggered by any other company.

Tesla’s 730pc rise in its share price during 2020 caused the significant loss for short sellers. Apple caused the second-biggest loss of just under $7bn, according to the data from S3 Partners.

The $38bn loss for short sellers “is not only the largest mark-to-market loss for any stock this year, it is the largest yearly mark-to-market loss I have ever seen,” Ihor Dusaniwsky, a managing director at S3 Partners, told Bloomberg.

Vocal short sellers have for years published claims that Tesla is overvalued but have seen sizeable losses in 2020 as Tesla’s market cap has increased throughout the year.

Jim Chanos, the founder of hedge fund Kynikos Associates has reduced the size of his short position against Tesla and said in December that the position has been “painful” over the previous 12 months.

Tesla’s share price rise has been driven by five consecutive quarters of profit which led to the company’s inclusion in the S&P 500 index in December. Shares in the business rose 33pc after S&P announced the addition of Tesla to the index.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, has publicly mocked short sellers who targeted his company by selling what he referred to as red “short shorts” featuring the Tesla logo.

Read the rest here

Favoring index funds, I don't do much speculative investing. And FWIW I have long though Tesla is overpriced, and I still do. But if I may steal a great line from the HBO series Rome, "This man is protected by powerful gods and it would be a cold day in the hot stinky bad place before I short sell any business of his." 

Biden expected to take a harder line with Turkey

Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have been mounting for a while.  

But under outgoing President Donald Trump, many of the potential flashpoints between the NATO allies were smoothed over thanks to a friendly relationship between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  

Looking ahead to a Joe Biden administration, there’s a chance that some of those tensions could blow up — but there is also chance for reconciliation. Whatever happens, the next four years for Turkey and its relationship with Washington are likely to look very different from the last four.   

“The only thing holding the relationship together for the last several years has been Trump’s personal relationship with Erdogan,” Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told CNBC. “With Trump removed, Erdogan should be very, very worried.“

That’s because there is no shortage of conflict points between Ankara and Washington; points that reveal contrasting attitudes toward geopolitics, alliances and governance.

Read the rest here.

2020


Like probably 99% of the world I will not be sorry to put this annus horribilis in the rear view mirror. Here's hoping for a better 2021.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

China Stepping Up Pressure on Catholics in Hong Kong

Nuns have been arrested and the clergy have mostly been silenced. The bishop of Hong Kong has ordered his priests to avoid any controversial language in their sermons. 

Details

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Review: A Christmas Carol (2019 BBC)

Yesterday I finally got a chance to watch the BBC's 2019 three part adaptation of the Dickens classic which I had been wanting to do for sometime. In particular I wanted to see if the generally chilly reception it got in the UK was justified. And I have to say it was not. If anything, the generally unenthusiastic reviews fall well short of the truth. 

This is easily and by far the worst adaptation of the many that I've seen over the years. It wasn't just bad. It was dreadful. 

There is almost nothing positive I can say of the miniseries, and that is fairly unusual for me. It was not uplifting. There is no redemption. It bears only a superficial resemblance to Dickens' tale of a miser redeemed, the connection to Christmas being somewhat tangential and with wholesale and very grim departures from the original. This was little more than a social justice warrior attack on capitalism under disguise as a Victorian period horror show. It's so bad (and vulgar) that parents should not allow their children to watch it. 

The one and only positive thing I can note of it was the performance by Guy Pearce in the lead role which I thought was credible, given the material he had to work with. But that really is about it. I can't even tell you to watch it for yourself if you don't believe me. It's so long that if I wasn't gripped by the sheer awfulness, and my desire to write a review, I would have never ventured past the first episode. 

My bottom line is that this was a political act of cultural vandalism, bordering on violence, against one of the great literary classics of all time, and it is to be avoided. If you can't think of a better use for your time, I suggest counting the blades of grass on your front lawn. 

For those seeking better adaptations, my top three recommendations are the 1984 George C Scott, the 1951 Allistair Sim, and the 1970 Albert Finney (musical) versions. All of which were available on YouTube the last time I looked.  



New York City Real Estate in 2020

A very good and detailed analysis of the NYC real estate market over the last year can be found here. The executive summary is that with a few exceptions, it was ugly. Manhattan was the worst hit with the rental market seeing average rent drops by percentages rivaling those of the Great Depression. 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Japan plans to phase out gasoline cars

TOKYO—Japan said it planned to stop the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by the mid-2030s, bucking criticism by Toyota Motor Corp.’s chief that a rapid shift to electric vehicles could cripple the car industry.

The plan released Friday followed similar moves by the state of California and major European nations, but it has faced resistance from auto executives in a country that still makes millions of cars annually that run solely on gasoline engines.

Japan would still permit the sale of hybrid gas-electric cars after 2035 under the plan. Many models from Japan’s top car makers—Toyota, Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. —come in both traditional and hybrid versions.

Earlier this month, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said that if Japan banned gasoline-powered cars and moved to electric vehicles too hastily, “the current business model of the car industry is going to collapse.” He was speaking on behalf of Japanese auto makers in his role as head of a local industry association.

Mr. Toyoda said the electricity grid couldn’t handle extra summer demand and observed that most of Japan’s electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels.

Government officials said car makers needed to revise their business models. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pointed to a different portion of Mr. Toyoda’s comments in which the Toyota chief said he backed the government’s goal of making Japan carbon-neutral by 2050. Reducing carbon emissions “should be tackled as a strategy for growth, not as a limitation on growth,” Mr. Suga said.

Read the rest here.

Hierarchical Divine Liturgy for the Nativity

Christ is born!


 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Vigil for the Feast of the Nativity

December 23, 1953


Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria, aka the Red Himmler, was shot following a brief show trial where he and six other defendants were convicted of various charges, some obviously trumped up. But his many very real crimes place him in the ranks of the most depraved monsters in history. His six codefendants were shot immediately but Beria was killed separately. Allegedly he died on his knees pleading for mercy not unlike many of his victims. His body was supposedly cremated and the ashes scattered in secret. 

Beria's fall from power represented the last Stalinesque purge where those being booted from office or power were generally liquidated. Stalin had died earlier in the year and Beria was the first casualty of the succession power struggle.  Thereafter actual executions in Kremlin coups and purges became rather rare. But Beria was almost universally loathed and feared by the other members of the Politburo, and with good reason. Even by Communist standards, it would be hard to name a more twisted and thoroughly evil man. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Non-Commuting 'Remote' Workers and Taxes

Ok; you live in tax friendly New Hampshire, but commute to work in Boston, which is in a very tax unfriendly state. Massachusetts generally taxes all income derived from within their state. In fairness, they are not alone here. It's a fairly common practice. But along comes Covid 19 and suddenly your employer orders you and around 90% of the other employees to work from home, in your case that being New Hampshire. So who do you owe taxes to? Massachusetts says you still owe them the money because that's where your employer is based. New Hampshire begs to differ. 

Enter at least eleven states and the United States Supreme Court.

Details.

The Greatest Miscalculation of the Post-Cold War Era: How the US Misread China's Xi

BEIJING—In the two years before Xi Jinping became China’s leader in 2012, U.S. officials tried to size him up through a series of face-to-face meetings.

During talks in China in 2011, Mr. Xi, then vice president, asked about civilian control of the U.S. military, shared his thoughts on uprisings in the Middle East and spoke, unprompted, about his father, a renowned revolutionary. When he visited the U.S. in 2012, he was relaxed and affable, chatting with students and posing for pictures with Magic Johnson at a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game.

The U.S. officials’ conclusion: Although Mr. Xi was far more confident and forthright than Hu Jintao, the stiff and scripted leader he would succeed, he likely shared his commitment to stable ties with Washington and closer integration with the U.S-led global order. Some even hoped Mr. Xi would kick-start stalled economic reforms.

It was one of the biggest strategic miscalculations of the post-Cold War era.

In the eight subsequent years, Mr. Xi has pursued an expansive, hypernationalistic vision of China’s future, displaying a desire for control and a talent for political maneuvering. Drawing comparisons to Mao Zedong, he has crushed critics and potential rivals, revitalized the Communist Party and even scrapped presidential term limits so he can, if he chooses, rule for life.

Promising a “China Dream” of national renewal, he has mobilized China’s military to enforce territorial claims, forced up to a million Chinese Muslims into internment camps and curbed political freedoms in Hong Kong.

Now, with Covid-19 under control in China but still widespread across the U.S., he is promoting his self-styled, tech-enhanced update of Marxism as a superior alternative to free-market democracy—a “China solution” to global problems.

“It was clear he was not going to be a second Hu Jintao,” said Danny Russel, who as a senior Obama administration official attended several meetings with Mr. Xi, including in 2011 and 2012. “What I underestimated about Xi Jinping was his tolerance for risk.”

Mr. Xi’s swift reversal of more than three decades of apparent movement toward collective leadership and a less intrusive party has surprised both U.S. officials and much of the Chinese elite. In hindsight, though, the roots of his approach are visible in key episodes of his life.

They include his father’s purge from the top party leadership, his teenage years in a Chinese village, his induction into the military and his exposure to nationalist and “new left” undercurrents in the party elite.

Mr. Xi’s autocratic turn also was catalyzed by a 2012 political scandal that upset the balance of power among the party elite and emboldened advocates of stronger, centralized leadership. It gave Mr. Xi the justification he needed to sideline rivals, rebuild the party and revamp its ideology.

Read the rest here.

Friday, December 18, 2020

House Democrats Snub AOC

House Democrats sent a clear message to their far left colleague Alexandra Ocasio Cortez by snubbing her in a bid for a seat on one of the more coveted committee assignments. Speaker Pelosi effectively filled four of five openings on the Energy and Commerce Committee and then named two candidates for the fifth spot leaving it up to the House Democratic Policy and Steering Committee to decide between the two. AOC was one and the other was fellow NY Congresswoman Kathleen Rice. The vote was 46-13.  AOC has a record of strained relations with the leadership and the more centrist elements of her party, frequently criticizing them and backing primary challenges against moderate Democrats. More than a few Democrats have been dropping hints and anonymously sourced comments that the caucus was getting tired of her antics.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

UK: 'Freedom of speech includes right to offend'

Two judges have struck a blow to enemies of free speech after ruling people should have the right to offend and even abuse each other without facing a police investigation.

Presiding over a Court of Appeal case concerning the misgendering of a trans woman on Twitter, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Warby ruled that “free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another”, adding: “Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having”.  

They said it would be a “serious interference” with the right of free speech if “those wishing to express their own views could be silenced by, or threatened with, proceedings for harassment based on subjective claims by individuals that felt offended or insulted”.

The judgment could have far-reaching implications for officers seeking to bring charges over people’s opinions - a move that has seen them branded the “thought police” by campaigners for free speech.

Read the rest here

A Weird Story from the Russian Church

This reads a bit like a hit piece and it must be born in mind that only one version of events is being presented. But clearly something with scandalous tones went down in the Russian Orthodox Church. Setting aside the more salacious aspects of the story, the ROC appointed someone as a bishop who should not have been. 

In general married priests who end up divorced are not allowed to remain in active ministry. That said, I have heard of instances where bishops have exercised oikonomia and allowed it, especially if it was clear that the priest was entirely innocent. But I have never until now heard of a divorced priest being raised to the episcopacy. 

Details

Who is likely to benefit from a warming planet?

One surprising answer might be Russia.

Story here.

The Cult of Christian Trumpism

Well worth the read.

via Rod Dreher

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell quits GOP over party’s refusal to accept Trump loss to Biden

Details

The man was already retiring so I'm not super impressed with this as an act of political courage. But I will give him points for his public statement of principles. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

China is looking to subdue Taiwan

TAIPEI – Months after eliminating a popular challenge to its rule in Hong Kong, China is turning to an even higher-stakes target: self-governing Taiwan. The island has been bracing for conflict with China for decades, and in some respects, that battle has now begun.

It’s not the final, titanic clash that Taiwan has long feared, with Chinese troops storming the beaches. Instead, the People’s Liberation Army, China’s two-million-strong military, has launched a form of “gray zone” warfare. In this irregular type of conflict, which stops short of an actual shooting war, the aim is to subdue the foe through exhaustion.

Beijing is conducting waves of threatening forays from the air while ratcheting up existing pressure tactics to erode Taiwan’s will to resist, say current and former senior Taiwanese and U.S. military officers. The flights, they say, complement amphibious landing exercises, naval patrols, cyber attacks and diplomatic isolation.

The risk of conflict is now at its highest level in decades. PLA aircraft are flying menacingly towards airspace around Taiwan almost daily, sometimes launching multiple sorties on the same day. Since mid-September, Chinese warplanes have flown more than 100 of these missions, according to a Reuters compilation of flight data drawn from official statements by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense. The data shows that in periods when political tension across the Taiwan Strait peaks, China sends more aircraft, including some of its most potent fighters and bombers.

These encroachment tactics are “super effective,” Admiral Lee Hsi-ming, who until last year was the commander of the Taiwanese military, told Reuters in an interview. “You say it’s your garden, but it turns out that it is your neighbor who’s hanging out in the garden all the time. With that action, they are making a statement that it’s their garden - and that garden is one step away from your house.”

Under President Xi Jinping, China has accelerated the development of forces the PLA would need one day to conquer the island of 23 million - a mission that is the country’s top military priority, according to Chinese and Western analysts. With Hong Kong and the restive regions of Tibet and Xinjiang under ever-tighter control, Taiwan is the last remaining obstacle to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power. In a major speech early last year, Xi said that Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a Chinese province, “must be, will be” unified with China. He set no deadline but would not rule out the use of force.

There has been a “clear shift” this year in Beijing’s posture, a senior Taiwanese security official responsible for intelligence on China told Reuters. Chinese military and government agencies have switched from decades of “theoretical talk” about taking Taiwan by force to debating and working on plans for possible military action, the official said.

Read the rest here.

This is an excellent piece that gives a detailed discussion of the very real threat China poses to Taiwan and the ability of Taiwan to resist an armed attack. I am somewhat worried that the complete non-response from the international community to China's brutal subjugation of Hong Kong, it's invasion and continued occupation of Tibet, the wholesale repression of ethnic Uyghurs in Xianjian including mass incarceration in what can only be described as concentration camps, and China's creation of fortified artificial islands in the international waters of the South China Sea, can only be reinforcing Xi's belief that the international community is incapable of any meaningful coordinated response to China's ongoing outrages. 

And it must be said plainly that the military occupation by Bejing of Taiwan would be a strategic calamity both for the entire region and the United States. It would give China a base of operations capable of threatening all of the independent states in the region, including Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand as well as the capacity for the Chinese Navy to project itself into the broad reaches of the Pacific. 

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Routine Updating

 

I am in the process of reviewing the sidebar and verifying all of the various links as well as adding a few new ones. Frankly this has been overdue for sometime, probably years. In the course of this I have already found a large number of dead links which, with sadness, I am removing. Also any linked blogs that have not been posted to in more than a year are likely to go away unless there is material there that I deem so good that it should remain linked. In those cases the link will likely be moved to the section for abandoned blogs. I hope to have this process finished in the next couple of days. 

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Russian Orthodox Church warns against DIY exorcisms

The Russian Orthodox Church has warned worshippers against performing exorcisms at home, saying that casting out demons should be left to members of the clergy.

Metropolitan Hilarion, who heads the church’s Department of External Relations, made the comments in reaction to a viral video showing parents attempting to expel a demon from their 10-year-old son with holy water and garlic in the Volgograd region. In the video, the parents can be seen taking turns trying to restrain the screaming boy and pushing his face into the couch.

“If questions arise as to whether demons should be driven out of this or that person, first of all, you need to turn to the priests. Any [personal] initiative in this is completely unacceptable,” Metropolitan Ilarion said during a news program on the state-run Rossia 24 broadcaster Saturday.

The state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited the abbess of the local monastery in the Volgograd region as saying that the 10-year-old in the exorcism video was “a normal, healthy boy who was ready to make contact, talk with a priest and confess.”

Metropolitan Hilarion condemned "the blatant discrepancy between the actions of these parents and the teachings and practice of the Church."

The Russian Orthodox Church strictly prohibits performing any type of exorcism on children and mental health disorders should never be confused with demonic possession, he said. 

Proper exorcisms usually performed by a priest only after being granted a special blessing from a bishop. During the ritual, a priest reads special prayers for casting out the demons, Metropolitan Ilarion explained.

At least two people have died as a result of exorcisms in Russia since 2011.

Source


That this needs to be actually said is alarming. Nobody should be studying or have anything to do with demonology or exorcism unless they have been given a blessing from the competent church authority. And those blessings are rarely given for good reasons, and then only to persons who have a legitimate need and who are known to be spiritually mature. For anyone else, dabbling in this field is the spiritual equivalent to playing with a loaded gun.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Pearl Harbor


Part 1 of a ten part series (all of which are linked) covering the attack on Pearl Harbor including the background, and a near minute by minute as it happened examination of the actual attack. The people who are behind this have been doing a whole series of videos on historical events including their weekly episodes of World War II in real time, of which this is a part. It's been going on for a little over two years now. The narrator also did a four year long as it happened weekly history on the First World War for the centenary. Their stuff is high quality and may be of interest to any history enthusiasts out there.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Metropolitan Hrizostom (Jević) is hospitalized

The acting primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church has been hospitalized with Covid 19. Metropolitan Hrizostom assumed the position following the death of Patriarch Irenej on November 20.

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Calexit continues

Elon Musk has told friends and associates he plans to move to Texas.


On a personal note, I left California five years ago. Since then two of my friends have also left.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Still trying to make satire redundant

San Francisco (who else?) has banned smoking by private citizens in their own homes (apartments). However, they did write in an exception... for weed. Yep. You can be fined $1000 for lighting up in your own home, unless it's a joint. 

From here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

The latest from Trump World

  • The FBI and Department of Justice have found no evidence supporting President Trump's lies about supposed electoral fraud. This according to Trump's own Attorney General. 
  • A senior election official in Georgia has called out Trump's rhetoric for creating a situation that could lead to violence.
  • Trump has discussed granting his lawyer Rudy Giuliani a pardon. For what? No one is saying.
  • Trump has also apparently begun discussing pardons for his family. For what? No one is saying. But seriously; who didn't see this coming? [He is going to pardon himself as well before he leaves office.]
  • The Justice Department is reportedly investigating a scheme to secure a presidential pardon for an unnamed Federal prison inmate via bribery. News sources are quick to note that details are thin and the DOJ is refusing to name names for now. President Trump's name was not visible in any of the heavily redacted court documents that are the basis for the reports. 
  • Multiple sources in the White House are stating that President Trump will not concede the election under any circumstances. He will not call the president elect or invite him to the White House and he will refuse to attend the inauguration. Instead, Trump plans to announce his candidacy for the 2024 election and hold his first campaign rally on inauguration day. 
Note: In Burdick v United States (1915) it was ruled that the granting and acceptance of a pardon constitutes a de-facto admission of having committed one or more crimes. The only generally recognized exception being in cases of gross miscarriage of justice where a person having been convicted in a court of law of a crime is later found to have been in fact innocent.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving


Wishing everyone a blessed feast in what for so many has been an extraordinarily difficult year.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

New York mass wedding organized in secret

A Hasidic synagogue in Brooklyn planned the wedding of a chief rabbi’s grandson with such secrecy it was able to host thousands of maskless celebrants without the city catching on.

Despite a surge in COVID-19 cases, guests crammed shoulder-to-shoulder inside the Yetev Lev temple in Williamsburg for the Nov. 8 nuptials — stomping, dancing and singing at the top of their lungs without a mask in sight, videos obtained by The Post show.

Organizers schemed to hide the wedding of Yoel Teitelbaum, grandson of Satmar Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelman, from “the ravenous press and government officials,” says a detailed account in the Yiddish newspaper Der Blatt, the publication of the Satmar sect.

Read the rest here.

The arrogant and callous disregard for the public safety on display here is simply breathtaking. It is clear that these people believe they are somehow special and above the law, and free to endanger their neighbors and fellow citizens at will. If I were a New Yorker I would be furious. This is not a minor infraction of indoor accommodation limits or failure to space adequately between tables in a restaurant. Criminal charges should be filed. And if somebody dies as a result of being infected via this event, those charges should include negligent manslaughter.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Patriarch Irinej is seriously ill

Word from the Serbian Orthodox Church that H.H. Patriarch Irinej's condition has deteriorated as a consequence of Covid 19. Details.

Reversing years of cuts, Britain announces sharp increase in defense spending

The U.K. government announced its biggest increase in defense spending since the Cold War in a bid to secure its position as the U.S.’s main military ally in Europe after Brexit.

The U.K. will spend an additional 24.1 billion pounds, equivalent to $32 billion, over the next four years compared with last year’s budget. That is £16.5 billion more than the government had already pledged, securing the U.K.’s rank as the second-highest spender on defense in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization behind the U.S.

“I have done this in the teeth of the pandemic amid every other demand on our resources because the defense of the realm and the safety of the British people must come first,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament on Thursday.

The U.K. shouldn’t be “content to curl up on our island and leave the task to our friends,” he said.

“Britain must be true to our history, to stand alongside our allies,” he said. “To achieve this, we need to upgrade our capabilities across the board.”

Read the rest here.

Worries are rising over COVID deniers and anti-vaxxers

Story here.

This could be a problem, but I think it's manageable. There are some people who subscribe to pseudoscientific beliefs and or conspiracy theories regarding vaccines and others who simply deny that Covid exists at all or if they concede its existence, they claim it is being overblown and that the reports of mass infections and deaths are false. Happily those subscribing to these delusional views are not huge in numbers. But there are enough that in some situations they could pose a serious health risk if you get a bunch of unvaccinated people in large groups.

On the one hand I dislike direct coercion in matters of conscience. So I would be opposed to laws mandating vaccination under pain of fine or jail. But on the other hand it is a well established principle of law that society does have the right to impose reasonable regulations to protect the public health. So my response would be to take steps to limit the ability of vaccine resisters to pose such a threat.

* Require all persons booking commercial airplane flights anywhere in the US, or overseas if bound for the US, to affirm under penalty of perjury that all those booking have been vaccinated. No vaccination... no plane trip.

* Ditto interstate bus and train tickets and all cruise ships/ocean liners.

* Require affirmation of vaccination as a condition for applying for or renewing a US passport.

* Hotels should be encouraged to require registering guests to affirm that they have been vaccinated.

* States should require students registering for schools and university to provide evidence of vaccination.

None of these measures are unreasonable as a public health response to a dangerous pandemic. People will still be able to refuse vaccination, but there will be consequences that for many will be inconvenient. They could still travel by private vehicle and children could be home schooled. Obviously, any such regulations should not be imposed until a vaccine has been available to the general public for a sufficient amount of time that anyone wanting one will have had the opportunity to get the jab.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Most Corrupt President in the History of the United States Strikes Again

President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the federal agency that vouched for the reliability of the 2020 election.

Trump fired Christopher Krebs in a tweet, saying his recent statement defending the security of the election was “highly inaccurate.”

Read the rest here.

It is time to state something very plainly. Donald Trump is a liar. By which I mean he is a congenital liar. Some with more qualifications might call him a pathological liar. If Harry Truman were still alive, he'd just label Trump as a lying son of a bitch. I'm comfortable with any of those characterizations. 

But however you choose to frame it, any claim of fact that might emanate from Donald Trump's mouth or Twitter feed should be treated as a presumptive lie until verified by an independent reliable source. That includes the correct time of day and the weather. Speaking of which, he has actually lied about the weather. He lies with an ease and frequency that most people would associate with breathing.

Never, in the 54 years of my life, did I expect to have to write such things about a sitting President of the United States. God save us.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Armenians torch their homes on land ceded to Azerbaijan

 KALBAJAR, Azerbaijan (AP) — In a bitter farewell to his home of 21 years, Garo Dadevusyan wrenched off its metal roof and prepared to set the stone house on fire. Thick smoke poured from houses that his neighbors had already torched before fleeing this ethnic Armenian village about to come under Azerbaijani control.

The village is to be turned over to Azerbaijan on Sunday as part of territorial concessions in an agreement to end six weeks of intense fighting with Armenian forces. The move gripped its 600 people with fear and anger so deep that they destroyed the homes they once loved.

The settlement — called Karvachar in Armenian — is legally part of Azerbaijan, but it has been under the control of ethnic Armenians since the 1994 end of a war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. That war left not only Nagorno-Karabakh itself but substantial surrounding territory in Armenian hands.

After years in which sporadic clashes broke out between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces, full-scale fighting began in late September this year. Azerbaijan made relentless military advances, culminating in the seizure of the city of Shusha, a strategically key city and one of strong emotional significance as a longtime center of Azeri culture.

Two days after Azerbaijan announced it had taken Shusha, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a Russia-brokered cease-fire under which territory that Armenia occupies outside the formal borders of Nagorno-Karabakh will be gradually ceded.

Read the rest here.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Minneapolis violence surges as cops quit in droves

A longish article worth the read. There are real world consequences when you use the people of your city as guinea pigs in left wing sociological experiments.

Read it here. (If you don't have a subscription you may need to open the page in an anonymous browser.)

Thursday, November 12, 2020

It's Over

WASHINGTON — Hours after President Trump repeated a baseless report that a voting machine system “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide,” he was directly contradicted by a group of federal, state and local election officials, who issued a statement on Thursday declaring flatly that the election “was the most secure in American history” and that “there is no evidence” any voting systems were compromised.

The rebuke, in a statement by a coordinating council overseeing the voting systems used around the country, never mentioned Mr. Trump by name. But it amounted to a remarkable corrective to a wave of disinformation that Mr. Trump has been pushing across his Twitter feed.

The statement was distributed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is responsible for helping states secure the voting process. Coming directly from one of Mr. Trump’s own cabinet agencies, it further isolated the president in his false claims that widespread fraud cost him the election.

Read the rest here

Donald Trump, being Donald Trump, is unlikely to ever admit that he lost the election. But he did. The lying and the crying will continue. But the farcical claims of a stolen election have been indulged for long enough.

It is somewhat ironic that a few posts below this, I had thrown out a few presidential trivia questions, one of which was to name the handful of presidents who did not attend the inauguration of their successor. I am guessing that the answer to that will need to be expanded in the near future.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Monday, November 09, 2020

Quote of the day...

 "A lawsuit claiming statutory or constitutional violations without evidence, is just a tweet with a filing fee." -Original author unknown, but currently enjoying widespread circulation

Mr. Trump and his supporters are certainly entitled to ask questions and challenge any possible irregularities in the election. However, to date no credible evidence supporting these allegations has been produced and Mr. Trump is batting zero in the courts. Further, the right to ask pointed questions and insist on a close look at the results does not extend to making incendiary claims aimed at undermining public confidence in the integrity of a national election, merely to assuage the wounded ego of a narcissist, who for months has made it abundantly clear that he would never accept any election results that did not name him as the winner.

It is difficult not to conclude that Mr. Trump is determined to go out the way he came in, with no class. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

The Blue Ripple; some thoughts on the election

 So much for the blue wave.

* The election has not yet been called but realistically Biden has won. Based on his behavior, President Trump seems to realize this as well. As of the moment Biden needs only one more state to put him over the top.

* But... his victory is going to be a very narrow one.

* The Democrats had hoped to substantially pad their majority in the House. Instead it looks like they will actually lose seats, albeit only a few.

* Democrats had hoped to take control of the Senate. As of right now they are going to pick up just one. There are still a few opportunities for some pick ups, but realistically the majority is no longer within reach. 

* Once again, most of the 'reputable' polls blew it. The vast majority were well off the mark. In many cases their performance was worse than in 2016. Trump's supporters who have been shaking their heads at the polls for the last six months have by and large been vindicated. Yeah, Biden is probably going to win. But by a popular vote margin of around 2%. That's a long ways from the 8-9% that was averaged out from the major polls on election eve. And some of the polls weren't just off; they were not even in the same plane of reality. To cite just two; there was the Washington Post/ABC News poll from Oct 28 that put Biden ahead by 17% in Wisconsin. And then there was the election eve poll of the same state from the NY Times that put Biden up by a more reasonable 11%. Holy crap! The final result has Biden carrying the state by just a tick over .5%. (Note the decimal point.) The major polling entities and news orgs have some serious egg on their face today, especially after their failures in 2016 and the repeated assurances that they had learned from the experience and made adjustments. Tonight there are more than a few Trumpists and conspiracy theorists who are suggesting that the polling errors were deliberate. I'm not buying it. But I don't blame people for wondering when you look at the error margin. These were by and large not near misses. They were epic failures. The lonely exception was Rasmussen which consistently defied all the major news orgs and more reputable pollsters by publishing data showing a very close election, with Biden holding a super thin majority nationally and most of the battleground states being basically a coin toss that would be decided by turnout in what they predicted would be a long election night. As for the others; they need to take this seriously and offer some sort of public explanation. Because right now their reputation, already poor among right leaning voters, is, or should be, in serious question among people of every political persuasion. 

In conclusion, the firm rejection of Donald Trump and what he stands for has not materialized. He has probably lost the election, but by a margin that can hardly be called a national repudiation. The GOP is unlikely to see any reason to distance itself from him. In fact, and assuming his health permits it, I would not be at all surprised if Trump attempted a Clevelandesque comeback in four years. 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Memory Eternal

Metropolitan Amfilohije (Radović), the primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro has reposed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Presidential Trivia

 In the spirit of the moment here are a few questions for history enthusiasts. See how many you can answer before looking them up or checking the comments. I will post the answers tomorrow.

* Who was the last president elected by the US House of Representatives?

* Excluding those who died in office, which presidents did not attend the inauguration of their successors?

* Two men ran against each other for the office of Vice President. The Republican won and the Democrat lost. Both would go on to become President of the United States. Who were they?

* Who was the last third party candidate to actually win one or more states in the Electoral College?

* Who was the only president to formally join a church while in office, being baptized, confirmed, and receiving Communion all in the same day? 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Memory eternal

On Monday, October 19, 2020, His Beatitude Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor), former Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All-America and Canada, fell asleep in his Lord in Canonsburg, after an extended illness. He was the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America from 1977 until his retirement in 2002.

Read the rest here.
Funeral services here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Pagan rituals used in Catholic bishop's consecration

The consecration of San Marcos de Arica Bishop Moisés Atisha, 51, Chile, in January 2015 included worshipping Inca idols like Pachamama (earth), Tata Inti (sun) and Malkus (mountain spirits).

A carpet with coca leaves, seeds and bottles served as “altar”. Many bishops participated in the pagan ritual in chasubles and miter.

Among them was the Apostolic Nuncio to Chile, Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, who is now Nuncio to Portugal.

Also present was modernist Santiago Cardinal Ezzati, 78, whom Francis first left in place but then abandoned in March 2019 due to the abuse hoax.

Source (with photos)

Unbelievable. The Catholic Church is rapidly sliding into open apostasy. 

Rome now supports same sex unions

ROME — In a documentary that premiered Wednesday in Rome, Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples, departing from the position of the Vatican’s doctrinal office and the pope’s predecessors on the issue.

The remarks came amid a portion of the documentary that reflected on pastoral care for those who identify as LGBT. 

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” Pope Francis said in the film, of his approach to pastoral care.

Read the rest here.

HT: Dr Tighe and a couple of blog readers who kindly alerted me to this shocking development.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Concerns over the Catholic Church in Germany grow

VATICAN CITY — As reports emerged recently of Pope Francis’ “dramatic concern” about the state of the Catholic Church in Germany and news that he received Germany’s apostolic nuncio for private talks on Monday, the country’s bishops pressed ahead on their goal of shared Communion with Protestants despite strong objections from the Vatican.

The leaders of both churches said their intercommunion proposal “still needs to be clarified” even though the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said last month that differences in the Catholic and Protestant understanding of the Eucharist were “still so grave” that they ruled out attendance at each other’s services.

The increasing divergence between Rome and the German bishops, amplified by the ongoing Synodal Path — a two-year reform program of German bishops and laity that questions some of the Church’s established teaching on faith and morals — demonstrates the real dangers of the Church in Germany one day breaking with Rome. 

In September, a leading German prelate raised the possibility of schism for the first time. 

Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne warned that the “worst outcome would be if the Synodal Path leads to schism” and that the “worst thing” would be if a “German national church were to be created here.”

Such a prospect is something Pope Francis appears increasingly concerned about, despite his own efforts to grant more autonomy to bishops’ conferences on doctrinal matters which critics have warned has sowed the seeds of a kind of “doctrinal anarchy” in the Church. 

Read the rest here.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Monday, October 12, 2020

Bank of England hints at negative interest rates

Negative interest rates could spell the end of free bank accounts, experts warned after the Bank of England gave its clearest indication yet that the controversial policy could be introduced.

The Bank has written to UK lenders' chief executives asking them to set out their readiness for negative rates, raising the prospect of an unprecedented move below zero as the recovery begins to slow.

It could trigger massive losses for lenders. According to analysts and grandees, in an extreme scenario banks could be forced to start charging millions of customers a monthly fee. 

Sir Philip Hampton, who was chairman of taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland at the height of the financial crisis, said: "In the case where negative rates are significant and prolonged, and are charged on current accounts of ordinary earners, I think there’s likely to be a strong customer reaction and pressure to make the revenues fit the costs with more transparency. That probably means fees.

"The alternative could be negative interest rates on bigger deposits. That mainly hits the better off who can usually afford it but also pensioners and other savers. But these events often lead to something fairly radical."    

Threadneedle Street has already slashed rates to an all-time low of 0.1pc, wrecking banks' profits and landing savers with a return of close to zero on their deposits.

Read the rest here. (Paywalled)

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Something is going on among the Greeks

Not sure what it's all about. But what is being publicly reported can be found here

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Supreme Court judges say Obergefell a 'problem' for religious liberty

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito on Monday said that the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling is already posing problems for religious freedom.

“By choosing to privilege a novel constitutional right [to same-sex marriage] over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendment, and by doing so undemocratically, the Court has created a problem that only it can fix,” the justices wrote in an opinion published Monday. 

“Until then, Obergefell will continue to have ‘ruinous consequences for religious liberty,’” they warned. 

In their opinion, which accompanied the Court’s denial of a writ of certiorari in the case Davis v. Ermold, Thomas and Alito said that the 2015 landmark decision pitted same-sex marrriage against religious liberty.

In the case of former county clerk Kim Davis of Kentucky, who in 2015 made headlines for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Thomas and Alito joined the court in denying her petition for a writ of certiorari, or a review of her case, on the first day of the court’s fall term.

Davis was sued for not issuing marriage licenses after the Obergefell ruling declared a right to same-sex marriage. The Sixth Circuit appeals court in 2019 ruled that she was not protected from qualified immunity, and thus could be held personally liable for infringing on the constitutional rights to marriage of same-sex couples.

In a statement accompanying the denial of certiorari, Alito and Thomas said Davis’ petition “does not cleanly present” the issues at hand in the Obergefell ruling. However, they sharply criticized the 2015 ruling for posing serious and unnecessary challenges to those religiously believing marriage is between one man and one woman.

Read the rest here

HT: Dr. Tighe

Trump's support is collapsing

Multiple and highly reputable polls are showing Biden leading Trump by double digits nationally and by numbers outside the margin of error in most swing states. The most conservative polls show a lead of around 8% for Biden with others showing leads of 12-16%. We are now within the four week window of the election and team Trump is running out of time to climb out of their hole. No presidential candidate has enjoyed this kind of lead at this stage of an election since 1984 and no incumbent president trailing this badly has ever been reelected for as long as we have had reliable polling data.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

The President's Health

Obviously this is very close to the only topic in the news right now and I have little to add to the endless analysis. I wish Mr. Trump a speedy recovery. 

Beyond which, far from being surprised by his illness, I think it remarkable that he avoided infection for as long as he did, given his open disdain for most of the medical community's advice intended to reduce risk of contracting or spreading the virus. It was all but inevitable that this would end badly, and so it has. The irony is that the president's determination to attend and host events where masks and social distancing were not only not required, but discouraged, has now resulted in a wave of infections among prominent Republicans. 

I noticed on a somewhat fringy rightwing forum last night, that conspiracy theories were spreading that this was some kind of biological warfare attack by Democrats on the GOP. Given the level of damage inflicted one could almost forgive such lunacy. But as is so often the case; the fault here rests entirely with  President Trump's reckless behavior.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The NY Times has Trump's tax returns

Not surprisingly, this is likely to prove embarrassing to the president. It appears the Times is being intentionally vague on some details, almost certainly to protect their source(s). On which note, somebody, maybe multiple somebodies, have broken some pretty serious Federal laws. Long time readers of this blog will know that I am a fierce critic of this president. But somebody, obviously for political reasons, just violated the rights of an American citizen to basic privacy with respect to their finances. Reasonable people can disagree with a law that allows presidential candidates and persons who occupy high office to shield their finances from public scrutiny. But the law is what it is, until it is changed. In this country, even villainous scoundrels have rights. And Donald Trump's rights have just been violated. This is an outrageous abuse and whoever is responsible needs to be identified and named as the winner of an all expense paid vacation in the Federal cross barred hotel. 

The Times' story can be found here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

On this date 1941

US intelligence intercepts a coded message from Tokyo to the Imperial Japanese Consulate in Hawaii. However, the interceptors do not have any decryption capabilities as MAGIC (the American military code breaking operation) is a closely guarded secret. Accordingly, the message along with others, is marked for dispatch by air courier to Washington. Unfortunately, the weather is dreadful and the weekly flight scheduled for the 26th is cancelled. So the still coded message, along with the others, is placed on a ship bound for the West Coast. It eventually arrives in DC on October 6, 1941 and is placed in que for decoding. Several days later, the message is decoded.

It directs the consulate to divide Pearl Harbor into zones and report the number and types of ships in each zone, with names where possible. This is referred up the chain of command as possibly significant. But the intelligence brass conclude it is routine. Diplomats are always keeping an eye on the military activities of their host countries. Other intercepted messages show that similar orders have been sent to Japanese diplomatic outposts in the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Australia, and the British colonies at Singapore and Hong Kong. 

Nothing to worry about here. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Woke toys

 EAST AURORA, NY—The toy geniuses at Fisher-Price have announced a brand new toy made just for leftist parents and their kids: the My First Peaceful Protest playset. The kid-size clubhouse will come with several varieties of spray paint so kids can tag the tiny building with their own empowering slogans. It will also be made out of cardboard, allowing the cute little tikes to burn the whole thing down if their demands are not met. 

"Here at Fisher-Price, we are steadfastly committed to social justice," said toy designer Camden Flufferton. "We need to teach our kids what democracy looks like, and there's no better example of democracy in action than violent vandalism and arson. We hope this new playset will serve as an inspiration for parents wanting to teach their kids how to threaten citizens with violence whenever their demands are not met."

The set will also come with toy televisions, cell phones, jewelry, and clothing, allowing kids to simulate looting before they torch the entire set. The set will be available in stores for $399 because of capitalism.

Experts are questioning the wisdom of this move by Fisher-Price, mainly because people in the target market don't typically have any kids. "We know we'll probably only sell, like, 3 of these," said Flufferton, "but selling them isn't the point. We just need you to know we're on the right side of history."

Source

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Court Packing: A few quick thoughts

This is getting interesting. The Democrats, realizing they may not be able to stop the GOP from filling Ginsburg's seat have trotted out the threat to pack the court by adding seats, presumably at least four. A few quick thoughts...

* Mitch McConnell is the smoothest political operator to head the Senate since Lyndon Johnson in the 1950s. If he is moving to fill the vacancy he has probably judged the risk of court packing in retaliation to be low.

* For the Democrats to pack the court they need Biden to win the general election and probably more than the razor thin majority they are looking at in a best case scenario in the Senate.

* By my count there are around six GOP senators who are in tight races this year. The GOP currently has a majority of three. If the Democrats run the board they would essentially flip that and hold a majority of three. Except that the Democrats are all but certain to loose a seat in Alabama. So that means their best case is now a majority of two.

* Expanding the SCOTUS is a matter of law, so it is in theory subject to the filibuster. But that has been on life support ever since Harry Reid ended it to allow Obama to appoint lower court judges that the Republicans were blocking. Mitch further rolled back the filibuster to get Trump's two SCOTUS nominees through. So there is no reason to believe the Democrats won't end what's left of it. But...

* They would not be able to change the SCOTUS if they lost three votes. (A 50/50 tie would likely be broken by a Vice President Harris in their favor.)  The Democrats are not as ideologically homogeneous as the GOP. Which is to say they have a few fairly centrist senators. It is not at all certain every Democrat would vote for such a radical act that would inevitably be countered the next time the GOP regained the levers of power in DC.

* The Democrats may be playing into Trump's hands. They are dangerously close to making the election a referendum on whether or not to pack the Supreme Court instead of a vote of no confidence in Donald Trump. That is not likely to be a winner for them. I can see Trump's campaign slogan now; "A vote for a Democrat is a vote to pack the Supreme Court."

The bottom line is that if the GOP wants to fill the seat before the end of the year, they might be able to do it and the risks of retaliation may be lower than some want to believe. The main obstacle is that the GOP, with a majority of three, cannot afford to lose four votes.  And they have probably already lost one vote from Alaska. 

The GOP is all but certain to lose seats in Arizona and Maine where the incumbents are behind by margins that do not appear to be surmountable. McSally in AZ, who appears to be electoral toast, is a strong Trump supporter and with nothing to lose is unlikely to vote against a nominee. Susan Collins of ME is also on her way out, but she is the last New England moderate Republican in the Senate. Her vote is dicey at best. The other Senate races are tight enough that my guess is no sitting GOP Senator hoping to be re-elected will risk ticking off Trump's base. One further complication is a quirk of law in Arizona. Barring a miracle the Democrats will win that seat, and under state law the new Senator elect can take office as early as November 30. If the new justice has not already been confirmed that will cut the GOP's margin down by a vote. 

So yeah, this is going to be damned close.

But if someone put a gun to my head and said "place your bet," I'd put my money on the turtle. Where most folks go to bed at night counting sheep, Mitch McConnell nods off counting votes and reciting long memorized arcane parliamentary rules of procedure. If something is doable in the Senate, and Mitch wants it done, I would take a very very deep breath before betting against him.

Supreme Court Historical Trivia: Dying in office

With the passing of Justice Ginsburg there has been much discussion about her refusal to resign, presumably in an effort to deny President Trump the opportunity to appoint her successor. And it has been noted that since 1953 Ginsburg is just the fourth Supreme Court justice to die on the bench. The others being Justice Scalia in 2016, Chief Justice Rehnquist in 2005, and Justice Robert Jackson all the way back in 1954.

But a look at the history of the court suggests retirement as the norm for justices is fairly new. Prior to the 1950s and especially in the 19th century, it was extremely common, arguably normative, for justices to remain on the job for life. To date there have been 114 Justices of the Supreme Court. What follows is a list of the 52 who died in office in the order they were appointed to the high court.

William Cushing

James Wilson

James Iredell

William Paterson

John Rutledge

Samuel Chase

Bushrod Washington

John Marshall

William Johnson

Henry Brockholst Livingston

Thomas Todd

Joseph Story

Smith Thompson

Robert Trimble

John McLean

Henry Baldwin

James Moore Wayne

Roger B. Taney

Philip Pendleton Barbour

John Catron

John McKinley

Peter Vivian Daniel

Levi Woodbury

Nathan Clifford

Samuel Freeman Miller

Salmon P. Chase

Joseph P. Bradley

Morrison Waite

John Marshall Harlan

William Burnham Woods

Stanley Matthews

Horace Gray

Samuel Blatchford

Lucius Quintus
Cincinnatus Lamar II

Melville Fuller

David Josiah Brewer

Howell Edmunds Jackson

Rufus W. Peckham

Horace Harmon Lurton

Edward Douglass White

Joseph Rucker Lamar

Pierce Butler

Edward Terry Sanford

Benjamin N. Cardozo

Frank Murphy

Harlan F. Stone

Robert H. Jackson

Wiley Blount Rutledge

Fred M. Vinson

William Rehnquist

Antonin Scalia

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Friday, September 18, 2020

Justice Ginsburg has died


Prayers for her family and the country. 

This election just got even more serious. I don't think Trump/McConnell have the votes to ram a nominee through the Senate before the election. Too many GOP Senators are fighting for their political lives. If Trump is reelected then obviously he will have an uncontroversial right to nominate Ginsburg's replacement. But things could get very ugly if he loses and Trump tries to push through a nominee before the next president takes office and the next Senate is seated. That kind of bare knuckled power play would likely provoke the Democrats, assuming they have a majority in the new Senate, to pack the court in retaliation. 

It's far too soon to get a handle on how this is going to play out. But one possible scenario is the GOP and the Democrats may cut a deal along the following lines... no new nominee until after the next inauguration in exchange for a pledge from Democrats not to pack the court if they win both the presidency and the Senate. Unfortunately the political atmosphere, both in DC and the country more broadly, is so acrimonious right now that I am not sure there is a sufficient level of trust to cut a deal of that magnitude. There will be heavy pressure from the far wings of both parties to stake out extreme positions. 

If this isn't handled right, we could be on the cusp of a serious constitutional crisis. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

The sun sets on the Wilpon era



Multiple sources are reporting that Steve Cohen is set to buy the New York Mets for roughly $2.4 billion. That makes the Mets the most expensive sports franchise sale in US history. Beyond which it will mark the end of an era likely to be remembered for tight payrolls and lackluster performance by the club. In fairness the Wilpons suffered some serious financial reversals in their investments which were hammered by the 2008-09 panic and also the loss of a significant amount of money invested with Bernie Madoff. But Cohen, assuming his purchase gets the green light from 23 of the other clubs, is a man with comparatively deep pockets. 

The Russian Orthodox Church does not rule out the creation of a religious object on the site of Lenin's mausoleum

The Russian Orthodox Church does not exclude the possibility of creating a new religious object in Moscow, which will take the place of the mausoleum of Vladimir Lenin. The building is located on Red Square.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

This guy gets it


I don't care what your politics are. That's your business. But when I turn on the TV to watch a ballgame, I am not interested in a political lecture, political slogans, flags, or displays of how woke (or conservative) you are. If the price of watching a ballgame now includes being subjected to political propaganda for causes I am not interested in, I will go elsewhere for my entertainment. And I am going to take my money with me. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Schismatic Patriarch Filaret is hospitalized with COVID-19

Patriarch [sic] Filaret, 91, who leads the large Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate, contracted COVID-19 and was subsequently hospitalized, the church confirmed Friday in a statement shared on its website and on Facebook. In a follow-up statement shared Tuesday, the church said its leader’s health is “stable” as “treatment continues...”

Read the rest here.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Navy cancels Catholic Masses at area (San Diego) bases- other religious services continue

 SAN DIEGO —  Catholic Masses at San Diego-area Navy bases have ended because the Navy, in what it says is a cost-cutting move, has declined to renew its contracts with Catholic priests, and there are not enough Catholic chaplains on active duty to fill the void.

Protestant services on bases, which are led by active duty chaplains, will continue, said Brian O’Rourke, a Navy Region Southwest spokesman.

The changes to the Navy’s religious ministries are part of a national realignment announced on Aug. 20. It is unclear how many priests this will affect.

“The Navy’s religious ministries priority is reaching and ministering to our largest demographic — active duty Sailors and Marines in the 18-25 year-old range,” O’Rourke wrote in an email. “To meet that mission, the Navy has had to make the difficult decision to discontinue most contracted ministry services.”

In the Navy message announcing the change, Vice Adm. Yancey Lindsey, the commander of Naval Installations Command, said it differently.

“We have a responsibility to use our limited resources wisely in meeting the needs of our personnel,” wrote Lindsey. “Therefore, we will reduce redundancies and capture efficiencies by realigning resources,” noting that religious services will be cut at bases where those services are readily available in the surrounding community outside the base.

Read the rest here

HT: The Deacon's Bench

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

LA launches retaliatory eviction against church lead by John MacArthur

 Outrageous. The church should sue LA and seek punitive damages for what is a naked abuse of power.

Post-Convention Polls Suggest Trump Has Narrowed Biden's Lead

Lots of polling data out over the last few days with some still showing Biden holding a commanding lead. But others from very highly regarded entities like Emmerson College and Suffolk University show Trump gaining ground. 

Details.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Report: Trump could appear to win on election night, and still lose

 A top Democratic data and analytics firm told "Axios on HBO" it's highly likely that President Trump will appear to have won — potentially in a landslide — on election night, even if he ultimately loses when all the votes are counted. 

Why this matters: Way more Democrats will vote by mail than Republicans, due to fears of the coronavirus, and it will take days if not weeks to tally these. This means Trump, thanks to Republicans doing almost all of their voting in person, could hold big electoral college and popular vote leads on election night.

Imagine America, with its polarization and misinformation, if the vote tally swings wildly toward Joe Biden and Trump loses days later as the mail ballots are counted.

That is what this group, Hawkfish, which is funded by Michael Bloomberg and also does work for the Democratic National Committee and pro-Biden Super PACs, is warning is a very real, if not foreordained, outcome.

What they're saying: Hawkfish CEO Josh Mendelsohn calls the scenario a "red mirage."

"We are sounding an alarm and saying that this is a very real possibility, that the data is going to show on election night an incredible victory for Donald Trump," he said.

"When every legitimate vote is tallied and we get to that final day, which will be some day after Election Day, it will in fact show that what happened on election night was exactly that, a mirage," Mendelsohn said. "It looked like Donald Trump was in the lead and he fundamentally was not when every ballot gets counted."

Read the rest here.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Friday, August 28, 2020

In Japan; the end of an era

 TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan will resign because of ill health, the country’s national broadcaster reported on Friday, just four days after he exceeded the record for the longest consecutive run as leader in Japanese history.

Mr. Abe, 65, had been prime minister for nearly eight years, a significant feat in a country accustomed to high turnover in the top job. During his tenure, he oversaw Japan’s recovery from a devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, restored a semblance of economic health and curried favor with an unpredictable American president, Donald J. Trump.

Yet despite his long hold on power — his second stint as prime minister, having held the post in 2006-7 — Mr. Abe failed to reach some of his signature goals. He was unable to revise the pacifist Constitution installed by postwar American occupiers, or to secure the return of contested islands claimed by both Japan and Russia so that the two countries could sign a peace treaty to officially end World War II.

The governing Liberal Democratic Party will appoint an interim leader who will serve until the party can hold a leadership election. Mr. Abe’s term was set to expire in September 2021.

The Japanese news media had been speculating about Mr. Abe’s health for weeks, particularly after he significantly dialed back public appearances as a new wave of coronavirus infections erupted in clusters throughout the country. When Mr. Abe visited a hospital twice in the span of a week, the rumor mill went into overdrive.

Read the rest here

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Black Ribbon Day


The anniversary of the infamous Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (August 23, 1939) is recognized in most of the EU and many other countries as a day for commemoration of the victims of Communist and Fascist oppression.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Metal, Money and the Measurable Value of Gold


Buried in an otherwise mind-numbingly boring regulatory filing released recently was a seemingly innocuous line item that most people would not give a second thought. Sometime in the second quarter, Berkshire Hathaway invested a comparatively tiny 0.3% of their total portfolio into just a single new company. No big deal, right?

But it wasn’t just any company. After spending decades as perhaps the most respected and widely-cited critic of gold as an investment, Warren Buffett bought 21 million shares of Barrick Gold — one of the largest gold mining companies in the world. It was so out of character that the financial world immediately did a huge double-take. The headline from Bloomberg pretty much speaks for itself:

Berkshire Makes a Bet on Gold Market That Buffett Once Mocked

As one might expect, investors on both extremes of the gold-appreciating spectrum are furiously debating what this all means. Buffett’s closest gold-averse followers are circling the wagons and dealing with a lot of cognitive dissonance, while gold bugs are enjoying dishing out some playful jabs after years of being on the receiving end. Lost in the middle is a vast sea of normal investors watching the news and searching for actionable information.

This article is for that last group just wanting to know the truth about gold and what it can (and can’t) do for their own portfolios.

For some reason gold often becomes a strangely emotionally-charged topic, and frankly both the gold lovers and haters spread lots of objectively false and misleading information in support of their preferred positions. Unfortunately those flawed arguments are sticky, and gold is so commonly misunderstood that even smart, educated, and otherwise level-headed investors have no idea what they’re talking about. So in honor of the shiny metal again making headlines, I thought I’d consolidate some of the most common questions about gold to help sort the truth from the fiction.

Read the rest here.